Arts + Music » Music

Day 7 at Magnetic North

Critical conversation, Demostage and Who Killed Spalding Gray?


MacIvor and Gray meet beyond the table
  • MacIvor and Gray meet beyond the table

I am a reviewer, not a critic, so I have to admit I was flattered and nervous to be invited to sit on a Magnetic North industry panel called "On Critical Discourse Within Communities". I wasn't sure what I'd have to add to the discussion, but as it turned out it was a productive and stimulating experience.

My fellow panelists were Indian actor/director Quasar Thakore Padamsee; Raphael Martin, Director of New Work & FEED at Soho Rep. in New York; frequent Wayves Magazine contributor and actor/gay rights activist Hugo Dann and Amanda Campbell who writes the well-known theatre blog The Way I See It (TWISI).

The panel was a true conversation, with theatre practitioners from across the country weighing in on the value of theatre writing. 

What I took from it all is that  while there is still definitely a need for "theatre boosters"  (people whose writing raises the profile of theatre and grows audiences) Halifax is ripe for more critical discourse that will help the burgeoning theatre scene here grow and improve.

In the afternoon, Secret Theatre presented their patent-able "Demostage" to a packed house at the Company House. Theatre artists were given five minutes to preview a work in progress, eliciting audience feed back and whetting the appetite for future incarnations. Brilliant!

Review: Who Killed Spalding Gray?

Performed by Daniel MacIvor
Created by Daniel MacIvor and Daniel Brooks with Iris Turcott
Directed by Daniel Brooks
Re:Work (developed with the assistance of Factory Theatre and Necessary Angel)
(Toronto, ON/ Halifax, NS)

Connections and intersections abound in Who Killed Spalding Gray?. Ideas loop, join and echo through three different story lines: the "true" story of the suicide of American monologist Spalding Gray, the "true" story of Daniel MacIvor's quest to rid himself of depression through a psychic surgery of a malevolent entity and the fable of hurting Howard who hires a hitman.

(The quotes on the word true are entirely necessary. This play reminds us that even the stories we "know" to be true are open to interpretation.)

There is a sense that MacIvor's performance is both a highly choreographed dance and an intimate dialogue with the audience. His gestures are practised AND natural. His tone is theatrical AND conversational.

The fragile souls of Spalding, MacIvor and the fictional Howard are all laid bare as they struggle to keep afloat in a turbulent sea. What makes this show so devastating is that not everyone is able to swim. 

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